Kelvin Benjamin is trying hard to block out his receiving statistics, and he’s definitely blocking out reviews of his performance on social media.
Yet the Buffalo Bills’ veteran receiver has no illusions about his “bad season.”
“I have the mentality to just keep pushing,” Benjamin said after Monday’s practice. “Once you hit rock bottom it’s only up from there, right?”
Benjamin has just 20 catches for 302 yards for the No. 32 passing offense in the NFL. He’s on pace for 32 catches for 483 yards, which is roughly half of what he produced in each of his two full seasons in Carolina.
He says it has tested his character.
“My first season like this,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself though. I’ve been bombarded by everybody. Just push through, just fight, my strength, my mindset and my mental part is just: This is my low. . . . I’m able to push through it and still smile and come out and just work, be around the guys in the locker room. It’s a learning season for me, very much a learning season.”
Asked about being “bombarded,” the 27-year-old Benjamin said:
“I mean bombarded with just social media. I can’t really get on there and really have fun with it no more because they’ve kinda taken the fun out of that. Just bombarded by the fans. Just bombarded by people. It’s the way of our life, I guess, right now.”
“It’s just a bad season,” Benjamin said. “You can’t help that. It is what it is. But just football man. You have good seasons, you have bad seasons. I’ve had successful seasons in this league. I’m going to have plenty more. For some reason, it’s just not the year.”
Benjamin has just one TD catch. He had nine his first NFL season (2014) and seven his second (2016). Each of the past two games, Benjamin had end zone passes in his hands, only to see the ball knocked out by defenders as he went to the ground.
“Every ball I pride myself on catching it, bringing it down,” Benjamin said. “Even those balls, I wanted to come down with it. I’m tougher on myself than anybody. I’m the first guy to criticize myself and the first guy to get on myself about anything. Unfortunately, I didn’t come down with it -- balls that we needed, balls that I needed. But like I said it’s football, and you move on and focus on Jacksonville.”
When those kind of plays happen, he knows criticism awaits him when he gets back to the locker room and turns on his phone.
“You think about the people already sending you messages before you even look at them,” he said. “You feel like you’re letting your hometown down. I feel like I let my family down because I need those balls.”
Benjamin is in the last year of his contract. He said that reality may have weighed on him at the start of the year, but not so much now.
“Just go out and have fun with the game, stop trying to worry about stats, stop trying to worry about I feel like pleasing everybody,” he said. “Just play for myself. Let the chips fall where they fall.”
“I think coming into the season that was hard,” he said. “I ain’t going to lie. It was always on my mind. So I was trying to block it out and just try to have fun with the game.
“But at times you drop a ball, so like I said, I was even more critical of myself. So I would let that domino-affect me. Right now . . . I just gotta recap. We’ve got six games left, man. We’re just trying to go all in. Go all out, put my body on the line. Hopefully I come out healthy and just get ready for the offseason.”